Dust Devil Caused Powered Paraglider Crash

An Alberta powered paraglider pilot’s helmet cam filmed his final flight and allowed investigators to determine that a chance encounter with a dust devil caused his fatal crash. The Transportation Safety Board watched the video and concluded that the strong updraft created by the dust devil caused the RS Ultra Kangook MF to climb sharply and allowing the aircraft and pilot to get tangled in the lines of the canopy. The canopy ultimately collapsed and the aircraft fell to the ground, killing the pilot. The accident occurred last May 13 near Gibbons, Alberta, just north of Edmonton.

Dust devils are a common site on the prairies. Daytime heating on dry, warm days create rotating updrafts that are fed by the cool air that rushes in to replace the rising air. They can reach about 100 metres in height but rarely cause more damage than blowing over lawn furniture. In this case, the encounter during the go-around from a rejected landing, upset the aircraft sufficiently to cause the accident. “Without input from the pilot, the aircraft’s climb rate suddenly increased, the aircraft rolled sharply to the right, and the paraglider lines wrapped around the pilot, the trike, and the turning propeller, eventually collapsing the entire canopy,” the report said. “…control was lost and the aircraft impacted the ground, fatally injuring the pilot.”